[PS4] The Long Dark Review
The Long Dark from Hinterlands is an exploration/survival release on PlayStation 4. Should you get it or avoid it? Find out in our The Long Dark review!
The Long Dark is, at a fleeting glance, a walking simulator – but scratch beneath that veneer and you find yourself embroiled in a brutal tale of survival against the elements, nature, and beast aplenty. You play as Will Mackenzie, and upon starting the mode called Wintermute, you’re immediately thrown into the deep end, with no real explanation of who you are or what has happened, or how to do various tasks needed to survive. As you stumble to your feet, you find yourself in need of a bit of basic first aid and that an all-important fire. It’s not overly obvious as to how to go about doing either of these, but with a bit of fumbling around, picking up various materials from the snow and investigating menus, you soon find your feet.
As you play through Wintermute, you are tasked with having to find some of the scarce resources available to you, while braving the weather and fending off the local wildlife, both of which are out to get you. Wolves and bears can take you out pretty quickly, something really disjarring early on, as you really do get quite used to the long, fading into darkness style death. All the while you’re trying to piece together exactly what happened to cause the crash – you’re helped through flashbacks, cutscenes and your interaction with NPCs. Voice acting is a bit ropey; a bit short in some scenes, abruptly cutting off and leaving you to read the rest of the text for a while, but it does its job.
Episode one is a great introduction to the game, and it eases you into things, but it does not hold your hand so tight as to be playing the game for you. Once you start episode two, you start venturing out further and exploring three large expanses of wilderness. It’s a bit daunting at first, especially with nature and the local wildlife biting at your heels, but you’ll soon become adept at traversing this unforgiving landscape, while carrying out tasks for the characters.
And it’s while out exploring you soon realize how cool the dynamic weather is. One minute you’re out on a clear skied day, casually walking to your destination, and the game turns the tables on you, throwing a tremendous snowstorm your way and ultimately leaving you scrambling to get to shelter before you freeze to death.
The game is difficult, there’s no doubt about it. But, while being harder than an average game of this style, it’s very rewarding, and it’s well worth pushing through to unfurl the mystery behind what happened and why. Visually, some of the game is absolutely beautiful to behold, with amazing landscapes and an incredible weather system in place. Some of the missions you’re tasked with can be a bit frustrating – like finding that old, manky granola bar, for example, but the game does things right here and there to keep you going. Play through Wintermute and then it’s time to fire up the punishing Survival Mode and put into practice everything that you learned through the story narrative.
I come away from the game feeling pretty accomplished, yet conflicted. As lovely as some of the game is, there are glaring faults, but I’m hopeful that these get tweaked and nurtured as time goes on. There’s already been a considerable patch for the game on PS4, and hopefully, the dev team continues to improve on a game that shows a lot of potential.
Keep that fire burning, stay warm… and beware the wolf.
This The Long Dark review is based on a PS4 copy provided by Hinterland.